Yesterday morning, Bingley, Magic and I were enjoying our morning walk. It was getting on for 5:30am--still dark enough to need a flashlight for poop clean-up, but light enough to see objects against the eastern sky. The storm of the previous day had cleared out and I wasn't concerned about getting the dogs home before the arrival of a downpour.
We had climbed the hill, walked across the crest, and had begun to make our descent, when both dogs went on alert. Across the park at the foot of the hill, I saw a tan animal run from my right to left and disappear into the shrubbery at the edge of the park.
My initial thought was that it was a large, loose dog. But then I realized it might be a young coyote. I couldn't be sure.
So I turned my excited dogs around and headed back the way we had come. The dogs seemed to realize that they had missed their favorite part of the walk, but I couldn't take a chance.
I thought about it all day yesterday. What had I seen? A dog? A coyote? What should I do this morning? Should I walk the usual route and depend on my pepper spray and my dogs' early warning behavior? Should I think about a different route? The problem, of course, is that the route I usually take is the one where I feel safest.
So, with a prayer for our safety, I hooked up harnesses and leashes and off we went on our regular walk. Just beyond the park, both dogs went on alert, looking up into the undergrowth that borders the sidewalk. Bingley responded to my gentle tug and "let's go", but Magic really wanted to go after something lurking in the thick vegetation. I had to speak to her again to break her concentration.
Strangely, I felt relief. I'm pretty sure now that what I saw yesterday and what Magic wanted to pursue this morning was a coyote. A single, probably adolescent coyote. I feel safer. A single adolescent coyote poses much less danger for Bingley and Magic than does a large loose dog.